New Detroit plane security scare

Sick Nigerian passenger on same NWA flight alarmed crew, but posed no threat


Devlin Barrett
December 28, 2009 3:12AM (UTC)

The same Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight that was attacked on Christmas Day saw another security scare Sunday after a confrontation with a sick passenger, officials said.

Security and airline personnel have been on edge since authorities charged a passenger from Nigeria with attempting to detonate a hidden explosive device while his flight from Amsterdam approached Detroit on Friday.

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In the Sunday incident, the flight crew became concerned after the man -- also Nigerian -- became sick and spent about an hour locked in the bathroom, officials said.

"This raised concerns so an alert was raised," FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said. "The investigation shows that this was a non-serious incident and all is clear at this point."

After the flight crew became concerned, the pilot of the Sunday flight had requested emergency assistance upon arrival, sending federal authorities scrambling to respond to a potential danger.

The Transportation Security Administration said the airline alerted authorities to a "disruptive passenger" on board fligth 253, who was taken into custody when the plane landed.

Two law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the incident, said the crew apparently acted out of an abundance of caution in alerting authorities.

Post-flight interviews by investigators determined the passenger was a legitimate businessman who posed no security threat to the plane, the two law enforcement officials said.

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White House officials briefed President Barack Obama on the incident, which generated multiple law enforcement reports of a disruptive passenger aboard a Detroit-bound plane.

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Associated Press writer Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.


Devlin Barrett

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